After School™, Link asks Titus how Violet is doing, and Titus says he hasn’t talked to her in a few days. Violet chats Titus, but he doesn’t reply. Titus and his friends play volleyball. Then, Titus suggests that they all get mal. Link and Marty are surprised, but they agree.
Where before Titus was ready to give up “getting mal” to spend quality time with Violet, he now wants to drown his feelings by getting mal with his friends. He’s making himself emotionally unavailable, perhaps because, odd as it sounds, he’s afraid of his own emotional connection with Violet.
The three friends go inside and go to a mal site. They download the mal, and suddenly Titus feels like colored bricks are falling down. He, Marty, and Link begin to laugh. They realize they’re now sitting in an ice cream store.
Titus’s feed malfunctions, which it seems is supposed to be a euphoric, disorienting feeling—the futuristic version of getting high.
The three friends go to the mall, and Titus shows Marty and Link the list Violet sent him. Marty asks Titus why he’s not responding to Violet, but Titus insists that he will.
Even though Titus may have gotten mal to avoid his feelings for Violet, he can’t stop thinking about her, and even shows his friends her list.
Titus hears a strange banging sound, and begins laughing again, thinking, “It was good to be with friends.” Violet chats him, and he replies, “Shut the fuck up,” but luckily he says it out loud rather than chatting her.
Titus is at once attracted to Violet and afraid of her—as evidenced by the fact that he tells her to shut up and yet thinks about her constantly. He’s never been in a position where someone he cares about has been so miserable, and he’s simply not emotionally capable of supporting her.
Violet asks Titus if he’s out of school, and this time Titus chats back that he is. He repeats Violet’s name again and again, and Violet asks, “are you in mal?” Titus says he’s going to come to Violet right now, but Violet tells him not to drive. She adds that hundreds of people have been found dead in Mexico, covered in “black stuff.” The Global Alliance is blaming the U.S. Titus continues to repeat Violet’s name, and Violet chats back, “I can’t believe in the middle of all this, you went and got malfunctioned. You are such an asshole.”
Violet’s outburst in this passage is similar to her outburst at the end of Part Three: while the whole world is falling apart, Titus is having a good time, lost in his own little world. Although she’s right, her critical view of the world is one of the reasons why Titus has been avoiding her. Titus feels that, unsatisfying as it may be, the comfort of the feed is still preferable to the painful reality of what’s going on in the world.
Titus announces that he’s going to drive to Violet, using the autopilot function. He finds his upcar and drives to Violet’s house. As he drives, he dreams about sweater vests, and his feed says that the Prime Minister of the Global Alliance has stated, “the biological integrity of the earth relies at this point upon the dismantling of American-based corporate entities.”
The Global Alliance appears to be gearing up for war with the U.S., since the further growth of American industry will bring about the destruction of all life on the planet. In short, America’s reckless consumerism and corporatism have finally caught up with it.
Titus arrives at Violet’s house, and she’s waiting outside. She tells him not to come in, since her father will know he’s mal. Titus tells Violet that her to-do list will take about five days in total. Violet tries to tell Titus about the recent news but he ignores her. He turns and buries his face in the grass, falling asleep.
Titus doesn’t understand that Violet’s “bucket list” was a reflection of a life she’ll never have, and which she herself knows she’ll never have. In typical form, he just wants to gratify Violet’s desires as soon as possible. Willfully oblivious to the news of the world, Titus buries his head in the sand—or rather, the grass.